The team comprising of Hitaashee Bakshi, Ankur Chadha and Aadil Bedi fired a gross score of 13-under 131 to lead on day one of the Ballantines Golf Championship Mixed Pro Challenge at the DLF Golf and Country Club, here.
The first round of the 36-hole tournament, a first-of-its-kind men’s and women’s mixed event being played in India, saw 17-year-old Hitaashee Bakshi make a major contribution to her team total as she fired the day’s best score of six-under 66 at her home course.
The team consisting of Yuvraj Singh Sandhu, Sunit Chowrasia and Gaurika Bishnoi were in second place with a gross score of 11-under 133.
Third place was occupied by the team made up of Pranavi Urs, Karandeep Kochhar and Chiragh Kumar who had a gross score of 10-under 134.
It is a Team Strokeplay event where all players must hole out on every hole. The two best scores out of three on each hole (hole by hole) would count towards the team score.
Hitaashee Bakshi, who is in the middle of her 12th Class Board Exams, had a horrid start as she bogeyed the first two holes after pulling her approach shots on both occasions. Bakshi, who has won three events on the WGAI since turning professional in December last year, then began turning it around after getting some words of encouragement from her two senior team members and playing partners Ankur Chadha and Aadil Bedi.
The pep talk from Ankur and Aadil did wonders to Hitaashee’s confidence as she picked up four birdies on the front-nine thereafter including three on the trot from the seventh through the ninth. Bakshi then added four more birdies to her card on the back-nine courtesy three conversions from a range of eight to 12 feet and a tap-in on the 17th. She also got out of trouble on the 12th with a good par-save.
Ankur Chadha also made a valuable contribution to the leading team’s score with a 69 that featured four birdies and a bogey.
Hitaashee, currently ranked second on the WGAI Order of Merit, said, “I didn’t have a good start but the encouragement from Aadil and Ankur on the third hole helped me relax and play with a more positive frame of mind. I was at ease thereafter and that reflected in my game as my ball-striking got better which in turn helped me pick up birdies and get back in the game.
“I feel we all have our strengths and that’s what gives our team a great chance going into the final day. While Ankur is very good with his tee shots and Aadil excels in planning, execution and creative thinking on the course, my strength is my short-game. Playing at my home course also gives me an advantage,” added Bakshi, who played alongside Aadil and Ankur for the first time during the practice round on Monday.
Yuvraj Singh Sandhu and Sunit Chowrasia had the two best scores in their team as both shot rounds of 73 to help their team end the day in second place.
Mysuru-based 18-year-old Pranavi Urs, one of only two players to shoot an error-free round on day one, was instrumental in her team being placed third. Pranavi, a four-time winner on the WGAI and currently the Order of Merit leader on the tour, carded a 68 making most fairways and greens in round one.
Urs was well supported by team-mate Karandeep Kochhar who returned a 69 on Tuesday.
The team of Kartik Sharma, Khalin Joshi and Oviya Reddi was placed fourth with their gross score reading nine-under 135. Kartik Sharma, playing at his home course, was the other player to post a bogey-free round on Tuesday. Kartik’s 68 saw him make an up and down for birdie from the bunker on the fourth and a chip-in for birdie on the 10th.